Sunday, 15 November 2015

Making the Connection Between School and Home

Schools are always looking for better ways to connect with parents. Ensuring that parents are informed about student progress is enshrined in legislation, and just makes good sense. After all we're all partners in making sure the students we share are well supported and that parents feel well informed and connected to their school. Connections can come in many forms ranging from the traditional newsletters, through interim and formal report cards, right through to electronic messaging and social media.

The duty to keep parents informed is clearly outlined in the School Act and a multitude of ministerial orders and the School Regulation. Parents can find a detailed description of the duty to report at the Ministry of Education website's  reporting page.   In part, this page outlines that "during the school year, Boards of Education will provide parents of students with at least five reports describing students' school progress. Three of the reports will be formal written reports and two will be informal reports".

Beyond reporting, schools also use a variety of communication methods to connect with parents. Most parents are familiar with the traditional school newsletters, printed periodically and handed out to be carried home by students. While many students do faithfully bring bulletins home, there is always the fear that newsletters are disappearing into desks, bottomless book bags or lockers and that their messages don't get through. Increasingly schools and teachers are turning to electronic, digital and online means of messaging. School web pages provide another means of providing information and can be found by accessing the schools tab at the district web site. Some schools have embraced social media and have established Facebook pages that interested parties can "like" to keep up with whats happening. If you are a Facebook user, you can easily find out if your school has such a page by typing the school's name into the search bar.

With computers and smart phones becoming more common, many teachers are starting to use email, text apps and other electronic media to connect with parents.  Its easier than ever to make the connection between home and school. If you are curious about how your school is working to improve the home school connection, give the office a call, check out their web page or even give Google a go to see what they might have posted online. Making that connection will help everyone to keep on top of education matters.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Busy Times!

Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday teachers were welcoming students back to school, and already we've seen Thanksgiving come and go. With Remembrance Day on the horizon and Christmas not too far off, the year seems to be rushing past at a frantic pace.

Every year starts with a flurry of activities, but this year the rush just has just not let up.  Instead of the modest student increase that we expected, district enrolment was up by 265 students. Ensuring that all the new arrivals are accommodated within our existing facilities is a challenge, as is finding new staff to facilitate their learning.  The north Peace continues to be a land of opportunities, and SD 60 is working hard to attract and retain well qualified staff to support all our programs, from the classroom right through to support and maintenance positions. District staff continue to work with other levels of government to expand our facilities. The fall has seen us working with the city of Fort St John as we add a portable on to CM Finch Elementary, and the provincial government as we look to build new facilities to deal with further population growth projected for the coming years.

District employees are also adapting to some internal operational changes. This is SD 60's year to move onto MyEdBC, the province's new student information system, that is replacing the old BCeSIS system. The change over is part of a province wide initiative, and as with all large scale technology initiatives, it has come with a significant learning curve. Teachers, clerical staff and administration have been all working hard to get used to the new system and to ensure that it works well. In addition, the Ministry of Education is bringing forward a new curriculum for grades k - 9,  to be be fully implemented for September 2015. This year will see schools planning for full implementation and two additional non instructional days will be added to the district calendar in the new year. Teams of teachers are already working with administrators to explore and design the best practices for making the switch to the new curriculum and its focus on core competencies. Parents can expect to hear much more about these changes in the weeks to come.

So the year is well on its way. The district is certainly in the midst of some very busy times. Against this backdrop of system changes and the pressures of tremendous growth,  schools continue to provide their communities with the full range of activities that mark the passing of a regular school year. I hope to use this blog to provide more regular updates that feature more of these activities and dedicate more time to education matters!